Book Review: The Inside Story
AS LONG AS WE’RE LIVING, we’re aging. For some, this is cause for concern, and as we get older, we may look for strategies to fight against it. Dr. Susan Sands, in her book The Inside Story, encourages a more positive response. Sands, a clinical psychologist, doesn’t deny or minimize the challenges of aging. She recognizes that the aging process comes with losses, but her basic message is that we can age with comfort, vibrancy, and joy.
Sands draws from Buddhist teachings in some of her discussions about positive aging. She notes, for example, how the concept of impermanence—one of the most fundamental teachings of Buddhism—can help us understand that everything is always changing. Trying to overcome—or “triumph over”—this truth brings frustration and defeat. Another Buddhist belief relates to our ability to cultivate healthy emotional states of wellbeing. While impermanence is something we can’t change, we can have some control over our emotional states. Fortunately, Sands offers a blueprint and specific strategies on how we can be mentally healthy during our senior years and how we can even find pleasure in an aging body.
Sands speaks especially to women, as many aspects of our culture work against positive images of the older woman. It’s not surprising that the majority of women over the age of 50 are uncomfortable with their aging bodies. These negative feelings are the result of ageism, not age.
The Inside Story was written to help women create an accepting yet vibrant sense of their older bodies. Sands urges women to tune in to the benefits—or “surprising pleasures”—of living in an aging body. She notes how with aging comes greater freedom and happiness, a more meaningful perspective on life, and a transformative capacity for body awareness. By outlining the many benefits of aging and offering practical strategies for wholesome living during the senior years, Sands ignites a genuine excitement about the aging process.